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MIT Engineers Have High Hopes For Cheetah Robot

Researcher Will Bosworth monitors a robotic cheetah during a test run.

A new cheetah-inspired robot can run at more than 10 miles per hour, jump 16 inches into the air, and land safely.

Credit: Charles Krupa/AP

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a cheetah-inspired robot that can run on batteries at speeds of more than 10 miles per hour, jump about 16 inches high, land safely, and continue running for at least 15 minutes.

The researchers designed 12 lightweight motors, electronics that control power for the motors, and an algorithm that determines the amount of force a leg should exert to maintain balance while running. An onboard computer organizes data from various sensors and sends commands to each motor.

"This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world, like, we have to put all the expensive components and make it really that instinctive," says MIT professor Sangbae Kim.

Sensors inside the robot measure the angle of each leg and that information is sent to an onboard computer that organizes data from the Inertial Measurement Unit.

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Kim says insights learned from the design of their prototype could have real-world uses, including revolutionary prosthetics, wearable technologies, all-terrain wheelchairs, and vehicles that can travel efficiently in rough terrain much like animals do. "In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life," he notes.

From Associated Press
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